The competition remains close as the Top 3 head into the final weeks of American Idol. Although all three put in outstanding performances Tuesday night, I think Melinda Doolittle edged out her fellow contenders slightly with her versatility and consistency.
Down to just three finalists, American Idol altered the format of Tuesday’s competition slightly. Each competitor sang three songs this week — a song selected for them by one of the judges, a song picked by the producers and finally, a song of their choice. This variation offered an interesting twist to Week 11.
An indication of exactly how versatile and how consistent Melinda Doolittle is, I have yet to decide which of her three performances I liked best. Personally, I can listen to Melinda Doolittle all day. Her voice is flawless, her performance is moving and her attitude is inspiring.
Doolittle led off her trio of tunes with Randy Jackson’s choice for her. A real chance to highlight her vocal range, Doolittle blew me away with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me.”
She then showed her range and her ability to adapt to different styles and genres with an excellent version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits,” the producers choice. I have to agree with Jackson that Doolittle should include tunes like this one in her repertoire when she records.
Finally, she rounded out her night with a really fun, bluesy number — “I’m a Woman.” We saw three very different performances from Doolittle Tuesday — all of them excellent.
Jordin Sparks, on the other hand, was limited to three song choices that seemed too old for her. While she performed solidly on all three, she lacked the ability to customize them for herself, to bring a piece of her youth to the songs.
In fact, I think that’s why Simon Cowell was disappointed in her rendition of his song choice for her — Rose Royce’s 1978 hit, “Wishing on a Star.” Having never heard the original, I liked the jazzy beat, but agree that it seemed dated.
By and far, I think her best number was the one she chose for herself — “I Who Have Nothing.” This song gave her a real chance to showcase her vocals and boy, did she.
Sparks, did get a chance to do a little personalizing with her version of “She Works Hard for Her Money” by Donna Summers. I particularly liked the runs she did at the end, again another opportunity to showcase her vocals.
The only male contender left, Blake Lewis had a trilogy of songs that suited him to a tee. Unfortunately though these song choices seemed a little too easy for Lewis and offered him no real challenge.
Paula Adbul started Lewis off with “Roxanne” by the Police. A nice change from his beat boxing, this number offered the audience a chance to really hear Lewis sing.
However, Lewis’ best performance was his rendition of the producers’ choice — Maroon 5′s “This Love.” This song offered everything Lewis needed – a catchy beat, great lyrics and the opportunity for Lewis to personalize it with his own style. Again I agree with Jackson that this type of song is what Lewis’ genre and what he should be recording when he makes a record.
Lewis followed this song up with his customized version of Robin Thick’s “When I Get You Alone.” I didn’t think I’d like this one, but it really suited Lewis.
The competition was fierce Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see who gets sent home on Wednesday. In my opinion, all three have a chance at making it to the finals. However, if I had to make a prediction, I’d say Blake Lewis is going home this week.